- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Senate vote will reignite battles over judiciary nominees
President Obama’s effort to reshape the federal judiciary will enter a new phase of open warfare with Republican lawmakers Wednesday when the Senate votes on whether to break the filibuster of Caitlin Halligan’s nomination for a seat on the prestigious D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Republicans have been blocking Ms. Halligan’s nomination for two years, calling her an activist on gun control, abortion rights and back pay for illegal immigrant workers. Democrats say she would be an impartial jurist and that she deserves an up-or-down vote based on her qualifications, which include serving as solicitor general for the state of New York and clerking for Supreme CourtJustice Stephen G. Breyer.
Her nomination is a flash point in Mr. Obama’s second-term attempt to speed up judicial confirmations — an area where he has trailed recent presidents. She also represents Mr. Obama’s more successful pursuit of increasing the diversity of the federal bench.
Ms. Halligan would be only the sixth woman in the 212-year history of the D.C. appeals court, which is considered second only to the Supreme Court in level of importance. Four of the court’s 11 seats are vacant, and Ms. Halligan’s nomination has received extra attention due to the court’s central role in resolving federal issues ranging from the war on terror to EPA rule-making.
“Nominees to the D.C. Circuit are critically important, and they get incredible scrutiny,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond law school. “Obama is the first president in six decades not to appoint anyone to that court.”
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and a member of the SenateJudiciary Committee, said the openly gay Ms. Chen “will be only the second female Chinese-American [lifetime] judge in U.S. history.” He called it “another step forward in our path to making the judiciary reflect both the talent and depth of experience of our communities.”
While judicial vacancies have risen during Mr. Obama’s presidency, the judges who have been confirmed include a far higher percentage of women and minorities than the nominations of his predecessors.
To date, of the 177 judges whom Mr. Obama has successfully appointed, 41.2 percent are women, nearly twice the percentage of female judges appointed by Republican President George W. Bush. Thirty-six percent of Mr. Obama’s judges have been racial minorities, exceeding Democratic President Bill Clinton’s record of 29 percent.
And four of Mr. Obama’s confirmed judges are gay, as are four of his pending judicial nominees. Since advocacy groups began keeping track of judges, there had been only one other openly gay federal judge — Deborah Batts, appointed by Mr. Clinton to a district court seat in New York in 1994.
Wednesday’s vote on the Halligan nomination will once again raise thorny questions about filibusters.
Democrats launched the first filibusters of appeals court nominees during the Bush administration, beginning with Miguel Estrada, whom Mr. Bush tapped to serve on the same D.C. appeals court that Mr. Halligan is now up for.
Nine other judicial nomination filibusters followed, leading Republicans in 2005 to contemplate changing filibuster rules to ban blocking judges.
A bipartisan group of senators defused that effort, reaching an agreement that limited filibusters only to the most extreme circumstances.
That deal lasted until 2011, when Mr. Obama first nominated Ms. Halligan, prompting the GOP to filibuster her along partisan lines — and both sides reversed themselves from where they’d been just a few years before. Now Republicans who had opposed judicial filibusters during Mr. Bush’s tenure launched one of their own, and the Democrats who started the practice decried it.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at email@example.com.
- Senate's filibuster rule change opens floodgates for Obama nominees
- White House faces press revolt over access to Obama's South Africa flight
- U.S., Britain to halt non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition
- New Obama adviser John Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- White House blasts GOP for criticism of Castro handshake
Latest Blog Entries
- White House downplays concerns over phony sign-language interpreter
- Joe Biden signs condolence book for Nelson Mandela at D.C. embassy
- Biden to Japanese businesswomen: 'Do your husbands like you working full-time?'
- Son, granddaughter join Biden on weeklong diplomatic trip to Asia
- Obamas visit fasting immigration activists
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- House votes for bargain to end budget drama
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow